A coalition of broadband associations representing providers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile sued New York on Friday on a law passed earlier this month that requires them to offer affordable internet to low-income families at rates of $ 15 and $ 20 per month starting in mid-June.
In the trial, which was first reported by Axios, the coalition argues that New York does not have the power to regulate broadband prices because broadband services fall under the federal government. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down New York’s law, declare its application illegal and prevent the state from regulating broadband rates.
The coalition includes the New York State Telecommunications Association, CTIA, ACA Connects, USTelecom, NTCA and SBCA.
Specifically, the coalition claims that New York law conflicts with a Decision 2018 by the Federal Communications Commission which says that regulating broadband as a common carrier, whose rates can be regulated, is against the public interest. the same FCC decision changed the classification of broadband from a common carrier service to an information service. The New York law also violates the Communication Act’s prohibition on forcing news services to comply with public carrier regulations, the group says.
In addition, while the coalition recognizes that there is “a need to bridge the ‘digital divide'” and ensure that broadband is available to all Americans, including low-income households, it says service providers. broadband already offer low cost plans for these groups. . They also participate in federal programs that offer grants to help low-income households access broadband, such as Lifeline and the FCC. High Speed Emergency Benefit Program, the latter will come into force on May 12.
New York claims that the the new law will affect seven million New Yorkers and 2.7 million households. Members of the public who qualify for the new monthly rates of $ 15 and $ 20 (for broadband and broadband respectively, respectively) include households that qualify or receive a free or discounted lunch, enjoy the benefits of the program. ‘additional nutritional assistance, Medicaid benefits, and rent increase exemptions for the elderly or disabled, among others, according to the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In one declaration, CTIA, a nonprofit that represents the wireless communications industry that is part of the coalition that brought the lawsuit, said New York law is rejected by federal law in this area.
“While well intentioned, this bill is pre-empted by federal law and ignores the $ 50 monthly broadband rebate recently enacted by Congress, as well as the many unprecedented pledges, donations and accommodations that service providers broadband have caught on for low-income consumers since the start of the pandemic. CTIA said. “We urge state policymakers to coordinate with their federal counterparts and with the broadband industry to better meet the needs of New Yorkers.”
In one declaration Friday, Cuomo, who is currently plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and revelations his office worked on hide deaths from nursing homes of covid-19, said he anticipated this response from companies. He accused suppliers of putting profit before “creating a fairer and more just society” and said he welcomed the fight.
“Let me be very clear: providing the Internet in the Empire State is not a God-given right,” the governor said.